Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.
The Wikimedia projects make up one of the world's largest repositories of human knowledge. With that much information, someone is bound to get upset by some of the content from time to time. While the vast majority of content disputes are resolved by users themselves, in some extreme cases the Wikimedia Foundation may receive a legal demand to override our users.
The Wikimedia projects are yours, not ours. People just like you from around the world write, upload, edit, and curate all of the content. Therefore, we believe users should decide what belongs on Wikimedia projects whenever legally possible.
Below, you will find more information about the number of requests we receive, where they come from, and how they could impact free knowledge. You can also learn more about how we fight for freedom of speech through our user assistance programs in the FAQ.
To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.
Disputed Territory October and November 2016
The Wikimedia projects exist to provide everyone with free knowledge. Sometimes, people disagree about whether certain information should be available. In October and November, we received two separate emails complaining about the existence of an English Wikipedia article on a historically disputed region. The article adheres to Wikipedia’s rules of neutrality and accuracy, and covers an important historical subject. These emailers are welcome to discuss potential changes on the article talk page. We support the community’s prerogative to present neutral, accurate information about sometimes controversial topics on the projects.
Dial W for Wiki September 2016
Most people contact us by email to ask for changes to project content, but we occasionally get phone calls, too. In September, someone left a lengthy voicemail, sharing a complicated tale about political corruption and violence in small-town North America. It seems that they wanted us to update the English Wikipedia article about a specific city and county to include some of the information in the story. Of course, we don’t update the projects, but if they have reliable and neutral sources, they are welcome to edit the page themselves or contact the volunteer editors.
Trademark Tag July 2016
A major North American transit authority emailed us in July, requesting that we remove their logo from Wikimedia Commons because it was trademarked. We explained that this does not violate trademark law; it is not a commercial use, and there is no chance of confusing viewers. This is an example of nominative fair use, as the image is used to illustrate Wikipedia articles about the authority. However, we offered to forward their concerns to experienced Commons volunteers, who chose to to put a note on the page mentioning that the image is trademarked.
Because we did not collect data for projects potentially and actually affected until July 2013, this information is not available for July 2012 to June 2013.
Jul – Dec 2016
Total Right to Erasure Requests
Jul – Dec 2016
Number of Requests Granted
Right to Erasure
The Right to Erasure, sometimes called the Right to be Forgotten, was established in a 2014 Court of Justice of the European Union decision, Google Spain v. AEPD and Mario Costeja González. It grants individuals the ability to request that search engines de-index or delist content about them. We believe in a Right to Remember. Everyone should have free access to relevant and neutral information; search engine delistings harm our collective ability to remember history and understand the world. In October 2016, we filed a petition to intervene in Google’s appeal of a French administrative order that would expand such delistings from the European Union to all global domains. Despite the fact that the projects are not search engines, we occasionally receive direct requests to remove content from Wikimedia projects under the Right To Erasure.*
* Please note that this information only reflects requests made directly to us. Wikimedia project pages continue to disappear from search engine results without any notice, much less, request to us. We have a dedicated page where we post notices of delisted project pages that we have received from the search engines who provide such information as part of their own commitments to transparency. But we suspect that many search engines are not even giving notice, which we find contrary to core principles of free expression, due process, and transparency.
Jul – Dec 2016
Total DMCA Takedown Requests
Jul – Dec 2016
Percentage of Requests Granted
DMCA Takedown Notices
The Wikimedia community is made up of creators, collectors, and consumers of free knowledge. While most material appearing on Wikimedia projects is in the public domain or freely licensed, on occasion, copyrighted material makes its way onto the projects.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbor provision requires us to remove infringing material if we receive a proper takedown request. We thoroughly evaluate each DMCA takedown request to ensure that it is valid. We only remove allegedly infringing content when we believe that a request is valid, and we are transparent about that removal. If we do not believe a request to be valid, we will push back as appropriate. To learn more about DMCA procedures, see our DMCA policy.
Below, we provide information about the DMCA takedown notices we have received in the past and how we responded to them.
A well-functioning copyright law carefully balances the interests of the public in access to expressive works and...the interests of copyright owners in being compensated for uses of their works.
License to Share August 2016
Most content on the Wikimedia projects is within the public domain or freely licensed, often under a Creative Commons license. We encourage everyone to read and understand these licenses before contributing. A photographer sent us a DMCA notice in August. They had uploaded their work to Dutch Wikipedia under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, but became concerned when the images were reused elsewhere. We explained that the license’s terms encourage reuse, as long as the attribution and ShareAlike rules are followed. They understood, and we hope they continue to contribute to the projects.
Grave Questions October 2016
Whenever we receive a DMCA, we investigate the content and carefully evaluate the copyright claim. In October, an artist submitted a DMCA notice for a photo on Wikimedia Commons. The photo showed a tombstone, which bore an allegedly copyrighted art design. Since the cemetery was quite old, we wanted to ensure that it was an original design, and not merely a similar pattern from over 100 years ago, which would now be in the public domain. After an interesting research detour through the world of 19th-century cemeteries and traditional memorial art, we granted the DMCA.
The Missing Link October 2016
We received an incomplete DMCA notice in October, claiming that a picture on English Wikipedia was a still image from a copyrighted film. The photo itself purported to show a famouscryptid (appropriately, we received the message on Halloween). We asked the requester to resubmit the notice with all the information required under the DMCA. They did not do so, and the photo remains on the projects. As for the creature, we’re not sure if it’s been spotted again—but if it is, we’re sure you’ll be able to read about it on Wikipedia.